The Wide World of Sustainable Wine

The Wide World of Sustainable Wine

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. There is no additional cost to you whatsoever.

Even informal wine drinkers know there isn’t any such factor as a typical bottle of wine; there are hundreds of sorts of wine, and even the identical wine tastes subtly completely different from one bottle to the following. When each small resolution made in wine manufacturing impacts the ultimate taste, it ought to be no shock to find that these selections have an effect on the carbon footprint as effectively. Estimates of the carbon embodied by a bottle of wine vary from 80 grams to 1.28 kilograms of CO2. Definitive solutions are laborious to return by within the wine world, however just a little details about the methods wine impacts the setting might help you discover probably the most sustainable wine that fits your style.

Growing Grapes

Britain’s Ethical Consumer studies that grapes are the fruit with the very best environmental influence. A life cycle evaluation of 1 natural wine decided that grape manufacturing contributed 39% of its carbon footprint. One of the simplest methods to scale back a winery’s environmental footprint is to step again – all the way in which to the choice of grape. Planting the number of grape that’s greatest suited to the present soil and climate situations will scale back the necessity for inputs of each form and is the one method to obtain dry farming.

You’d should be fairly an knowledgeable to know if a wine selection fits its origin, however thankfully, sustainable certifications can inform you numerous concerning the inputs used to develop the grapes. Organic and biodynamic are the 2 commonest certifications in viticulture, however there are a lot of others, together with the worldwide Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE). The environmental impacts for natural grape manufacturing result primarily from pruning waste and the gasoline utilized by agriculture equipment. Composting and hand-harvesting can scale back these impacts. It may take some shopper analysis to find out if a selected winery makes use of these practices.

Harvesting grapes for wine
Hand-harvesting grapes can scale back the environmental impacts attributable to pruning waste and equipment gasoline. Photo: Tina Witherspoon, Unsplash


A vineyard’s influence principally derives from the electrical energy powering its gear and the emissions generated by the wine itself throughout fermentation. Sustainable certifications don’t require wineries to make use of renewable power. However, most wineries that accomplish that – like Fetzer Vineyards – will promote that reality on their packaging or web sites. Until not too long ago, there was no possibility to scale back the carbon emissions from the fermentation course of itself. However, Spanish wine producer Torres is pioneering carbon seize applied sciences. Water use for irrigation is normally a much bigger concern than processing, however water-saving programs used throughout processing can scale back the 5 liters of water used to make a liter of wine. Organic waste produced throughout processing ought to be composted. Although not required for certification, that is widespread on natural farms.


Packaging is a significant element of wine’s carbon footprint, accounting for 34% in one life cycle analysis and 38% in another. Both research assumed the usage of conventional glass bottles. Despite its excessive recyclability, glass is the least sustainable wine packaging option. Boxes, that are lighter and likewise recyclable, are extra sustainable. Even greener choices embody bulk wine shopping for and (quelle horreur!) aluminum cans. If you possibly can’t bear to pour your wine from something however a glass bottle, a minimum of search for a vineyard that makes use of lightweight glass.

Bottling wine
Although glass is very recyclable, the normal glass bottle is the least sustainable packaging possibility. Photo: Vindemia Winery, Unsplash


Although the significance of food miles is normally overestimated, in the case of wine, you possibly can dramatically scale back the carbon footprint by studying to like native vintages. A Napa Valley wine trucked to San Francisco emits 2.6 kilos of CO2 in transit; the identical bottle trucked to Connecticut emits 5.7 kilos. Emissions from air shipments are the worst, adopted by trucking; container ships have the least influence. For this purpose, wines from Europe usually have a smaller carbon footprint than these from the West Coast when drunk East of the Mississippi River.


Most life cycle analyses of wine don’t embody post-consumer waste disposal – wine wastage is a much bigger situation. Most cooks advise in opposition to cooking with “corked” wine. But should you can’t bear to waste dangerous wine, there are ways to use it. Revisit your corking options to get rid of waste from cork taint. Regardless of packaging sort, wine drinkers ought to make each effort to recycle their bottles, bins, corks, and caps.

The Greenest Wine

To drink wine as sustainably as potential, search for an area natural or biodynamic licensed winery that makes use of renewable power and composts its pruning and processing waste. If you reside in a local weather that isn’t appropriate for wine grapes, keep in mind that the mode of transport is as vital as distance in figuring out the “nearest” inexperienced winery. Buy your wine in bulk, bins, or cans slightly than bottles. And at all times recycle your personal wine waste.